Lawmakers hope flashing lights cut down on Amish buggy and car accidents

FILE: An Amish buggy with an orange triangle makes its way home after a trip to the store (AP...
FILE: An Amish buggy with an orange triangle makes its way home after a trip to the store (AP Photo/Pat Little, File)(PAT LITTLE | ASSOCIATED PRESS)
Updated: Feb. 18, 2020 at 5:00 PM EST
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CLEVELAND, Ohio (WOIO) - There were more than 120 crashes in Ohio involving animal drawn vehicles last year, according to Ohio State Highway Patrol.

Lawmakers think flashing lights could improve road safety.

Horse drawn buggies typically go five to eight miles per hour.

And cars and trucks drive up to 55 miles per hour on country roads.

Collisions in Amish Country are dangerous and sometimes deadly.

19 News has covered several buggy-car accidents over the past few years.

We spoke to State Representatives Scott Wiggam (R-Wayne County).

He co-authored the road safety bill.

He sees a lot of buggy-car wrecks in Wayne County.

“We need as much time in order to save Amish lives, as possible from drivers as they're coming around a bend, or over a hill and they encounter an Amish buggy,” Wiggam said.

Buggies must display a light on the front and back and can use reflective tape or a "slow-moving vehicle" emblems under current law.

Wiggam wants flashing lights on the back of buggies in this state bill. He would like the lights to be on day and night. The bill would also require better reflective tape.

“I'm always very aware of not stepping on people's religious liberties. But these are roads that we all share, and if there's something that we can do that's so simple in order to save lives, and save tears, I think this is something we have to take a look at and have a conversation about it,” he said.

Most Amish do not use public electricity, but they do use batteries.

19 Investigates found from 2007 to 2016, there have been 1,412 buggy-car crashes.

And 25 people died according to an ODOT study.

The study reports 65 percent of crashes happened in daylight, 30 percent happened in the dark and the rest happened at dusk or dawn.

“You've always got to be aware of your surroundings and slow down. And of course don't drive distracted, that's the biggest issue,” Wiggam said.

Wiggam says the lights cost between $6 and $10.

He says they consulted with the Amish community before coming up with the bill.

It heads to the house committee next.

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